Rethink Your Life!
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Kiko Denzer on Art

[Cob] A Tale of Strawbale in Oregon

Tim Nam tkn317071 at
Thu Feb 28 22:54:35 CST 2008

Greetings natural builders of the world!
I don't have a question, I just want to share this experience.
During a recent dry spell here in Oregon I examined our strawbale garden wall for damage. It turns out a large section of the bottom course of bales was wet. And as we all know, moisture is the entropifier of any built structure. It doesn't seem like a total loss, though. I carved out what I could without collapsing the wall, and the damage is limited, and I have it tarped and drying. My plan is to refill with urbanite and cob in the spring/summer. 

The section of wall is clearly the most weather exposed section. We should have plastered it a lot more. The moral of this tale, keep your bales dry!! for cryin out loud. especially the bottom course!   Its cruel that the bottom course is also the most vulnerable to the elements. Perhaps some lime is called for, at least for this corner. (Its on the road side, not visible from yard) 

Okay, here's my question, how do you make lime plaster?

For the rest of the wall the clayey soil/sand/finely chopped straw plaster seems to be holding up. knock on wood...

Building this wall has been an ongoing adventure. Last summer we repaired damage due to a poor decision to try to save one (large) stem of the large woody shrub in the middle of the wall (It consists of two sections, bifurcated by the shrub). And of course there were the yellow jackets. But the roof seems to be doing its job for the most part and we've learned a lot. I think the squirrels appreciate it

Interestingly, I also would like to mention that the tiny little cob model that I made on a stump last summer, totally exposed to all the winter of this year, is still largely intact, including window and door headers. I'm not saying let your cob get wet, but that even if it does get thoroughly saturated, its still a pretty durable material. The full scale version is still a mere fantasy, alas.

Happy cobbing everyone!


Tim Kijoo Nam
Corvallis, OR
tkn317071 at
"We are discussing no small matter, but how we ought to live." -Socrates
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